Hey lovelies!

I have some incredibly happy news to share with all of you today. My new YA book, DIAL EM FOR MURDER, is going to be published by Merit Press!!!!!

I have an official press announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace and everything!

Children’s: Young Adult
Marni Bates’s DIAL EM FOR MURDER, humor and mayhem ensue when a teen girl gets caught up in the death of a hi-tech hitman and must try to stay one step ahead of the killers lurking in the shadows of an exclusive prep school, to Jacquelyn Mitchard at Merit Press, for publication in summer 2016, by Shannon Hassan at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency (NA). Rights also sold to Mora in Hungary, by Lex Copyright Office. Foreign: Taryn Fagerness Agency

Now I could technically end this blog post right here (okay, not right here. At the very least I need a few celebratory gifs, of course!) but Emmy wants me to share more of her story with you. So here is a small behind-the-scenes look at this project.


The beginning threads of DIAL EM FOR MURDER began tugging at me shortly after I finished writing AWKWARD. I couldn’t get Emmy out of my head. For years. And I can honestly say that writing the ending to DIAL EM FOR MURDER was the first time I’ve ever done the Happy Dance of Author Joy in Starbucks, gone out for celebratory ice cream, and wanted to start working on the sequel before I’d even finished eating my cone. It was my passion project. My obsession.

It still is.


This book taught me about blind faith and unconditional love and self-doubt and conviction. I think it takes a certain amount of all the above to be a creative person. You have to be willing to break your own heart with every rejection. Willing to believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that someone else will love this beautifully maddening creation as much as you do. You have to  acknowledge all those doubting voices in your head, but not let them paralyze you. And you have to love the project so damn much that you know writing it was the only option.


At least that’s how I see it.

Words can’t express how excited I am to work with Jacquelyn Mitchard at Merit Press. I can’t wait to share this story with all my fans. And yes, it will be translated for my Hungarian readers! Thank goodness! I dropped some hints about the boys in Emmy’s life during my recent adventures abroad. Because my fans are very sneaky. And they fill my heart with so much joy that I suddenly can’t keep a secret…

My agent Shannon Hassan worked tirelessly on this project with me. I can’t thank her enough. Truly. She’s absolutely amazing.

My friends and family helped me battle the self-doubt monsters. They cheered me on every step of the way. You know who you are. You know that I love you. A special thanks to my housemates who witnessed the full glory of a Marni-can’t-sleep-because-her-characters-are-scaring-her adventure. I’m pretty sure that handy man will never forget it either…

*smiles innocently*

And I’d also like to thank my fans. You know that part about unconditional love? Well, your letters/messages/pictures/drawings/muffins/general awesomeness made me smile on days when the doubt monsters were winning. Your passion and enthusiasm inspire me daily. I love each and every one of you.


Now I think it might be celebration time!


(This one is for you, Tija!)


*continues geeking out*

Awkwardly yours,


The Craziest Thing (By Far) I’ve Ever Done…

Hey everyone!

So the craziest part of being an (almost) adult is probably doing the things you always said you were going to do, but never thought would actually happen. Or if you did think they would happen, you always pictured a much more mature version of yourself doing them.

Not, y’know…you.

Case in point: Traveling the world with a single backpack.

For two months.



Did I mention that I was doing this alone? Because yeah. Alone. It’ll be me, my laptop (Amelia Airheart), and my loaner backpack (Victor Hugo).

Yes, I name inanimate objects. If I ever find myself stuck on an island like Tom Hanks in Castaway, I will have have a billion Wilsons to keep me company.

So here is the game plan:

May 31st–Fly out of Portland, Oregon.


June 4-7–BOOK WEEK IN BUDAPEST! (Meet fans! Geek out like whoa!)

June 8-10–Stay in Budapest, but take some fun day trips.

June 9–Day trip to Győr. (Hopefully do a signing/meet fans!)

June 10–Day trip to either Tatabánya or Gödöllő. (Feel free to tell me which one I should pick in the comments section!)

June 11–Train to Debrecen. (Hopefully do a signing/meet fans!)

June 13–Bus to Oradea. (A signing is in the process of being booked! Huzzah! Can’t wait to meet my fans!)

June 14–Train to Cluj-Naopka. (Do a signing? Meet fans? Convince my fans to check out Hoia Bacu forest with me so that I’m not abducted by aliens?)

June 17–Train to Sighişoara! Visit the foritified churches with my fans? See Vlad the Impaler’s birthplace. 

June 19–Train to Brasov. (Do a signing? Meet fans? Visit Bran castle! Hike the Seven Ladders Canyon with fans who won’t let me quit after four ladders…)

June 22–Train to Sinaia. Visit Peles castle and Sinaia Monastery!

June 24–Bus to Bucharest! (Another signing, perhaps? Meet more fans?)

June 28–Fly to Istanbul. (I’m so excited to stay with an awesome Hungarian blogger!)

July 3– Um…





(Hang out on a Greek island, maybe? Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments!)

July 16–Fly from Athens to Rome!

July 20–Fly from Rome to New York City!


July 26–Fly from New York City to Portland, Oregon.

Sleep for an eternity.

That’s the plan, guys. That’s all I’ve got right now. I might even show up in Budapest with a bunch of it still unplanned.

Now I have been thinking of trying something that could be crazy or incredibly cool!

See, throughout this trip process, I’ve pretty much let my fans pick my destinations. The original plan was to visit Croatia, not Romania! So what if we took it a few steps further…

If a fan wants to meet up with me for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sightseeing, etc….I’m game. I will post every step of my journey and leave the rest up to them. But they should consider this an open invitation to hang out. I hope by posting everything on my Facebook author page right here, I’ll be able to interact with my fans in a very real, meaningful way.

Obviously, I’m going to use my best judgment with this. If I ever start feeling uncomfortable or unsafe, I’ll have to cut the experiment short, or at the very least, restructure it with more ground rules. But I’m willing to give it a chance!

I think the trip will be even more awesome if my readers go on mini-adventures with me!

I can hardly wait to see everyone!

Awkwardly yours,


P.S. No readings/signings/school visits have been booked yet for Romania. So if my fans would like to contact libraries/bookstores/schools about setting up an event, that would be great!

Szia mindenki!

Tehát a legőrültebb része, hogy egy (majdnem) felnőtt Valószínűleg csinál a dolog, amit mindig azt mondta, hogy ezt fogja csinálni, de soha nem gondoltam volna ténylegesen meg is történik. Vagy ha nem hiszem, hogy meg fog történni, hogy mindig a képen egy sokkal érettebb változata magad csinál velük.

Nem, tudod … te.

Példa erre: Utazás a világ egyetlen hátizsák.

A két hónap. Egyedül.

Mondtam már, hogy én ezt egyedül? Mert igen. Egyedül. Ez lesz velem, én laptop (Amelia Airheart), és az én loaner hátizsák (Victor Hugo).

Igen, nevezze élettelen tárgyak. Ha valaha találom magam megragadt egy szigeten, mint Tom Hanks a Castaway én lesz egy milliárd Wilson, hogy engem cég.

Tehát itt van a játék tervet:

Május 31. – kirepülnek a Portland, Oregon.

Június 2 – Hurrá! LAND Budapesten!

Június 04-07 – KÖNYV héten Budapesten! (Meet rajongók! Geek ki, mint a hé!)

Június 08-10 -, akik Budapesten, de némi szórakoztató kirándulások.

Június 9. – Day kirándulás Győr. (Remélhetőleg nem egy aláírási / megfeleljen rajongók!)

Június 10 – Napos kirándulás vagy Tatabánya vagy Gödöllő. (Nyugodtan mondja meg, melyik kéne felvenni a hozzászólások részben!)

Június 11. – A vonat Debrecenbe. (Remélhetőleg nem egy aláírási / megfeleljen rajongók!)

Június 13. – Bus Nagyváradra. (A aláírása folyamatban van a elkönyvelik! Huzzah! Alig várom, hogy megfeleljen a rajongók!)

Június 14 – Vonat Cluj-Naopka. (Van egy aláírási? Találkozz rajongók? Meggyőzni a rajongók, hogy nézd meg Hoia Bacu erdő velem, hogy nem vagyok elrabolták az idegenek?)

Június 17 – Vonat Segesvár! Látogasson el a foritified egyházak a rajongókkal? Lásd Drakulát szülőháza.

Június 19 – Vonat Brasov. (Van egy aláírási? Találkozz rajongók? Látogatás Bran kastélyt! Kirándulás a hét létrák Canyon rajongók, akik nem engedik, hogy kilép, miután négy létrák …)

Június 22 – Vonat Sinaia. Látogassa Peles kastély és a Sinaia-kolostor!

Június 24. – Bus Bukarestbe! (Egy másik aláíró, talán? Találkozz több rajongó?)

Június 28. – Fly Isztambulba. (Olyan izgatott vagyok, hogy maradjon egy fantasztikus magyar blogger!)

Július 3– Um …





(Tarts ki egy görög szigeten, talán? Nyugodtan hagyja javaslataikat a magyarázat!)

Július 16. – Repüljön Athén Rómába!

Július 20. – Fly Rómából New York City!

Július 22 – HELLO Romance Writers of America KONFERENCIA!

Július 26. – Repüljön New York City to Portland, Oregon.

Aludni egy örökkévalóság.

Ez a terv, srácok. Ez minden, amim van most. Talán még megjelenni Budapesten, egy csomó még mindig nem tervezett.

Most már gondoltam próbál valami, hogy lehet őrült, vagy hihetetlenül jó!

Lásd, ez alatt a kirándulás folyamat, amit nagyjából hagyja a rajongóim vegye a célpontok. Az eredeti terv az volt, hogy látogassa meg Horvátországban, Romániában nem! Tehát mi lenne, ha elvitte néhány lépést …

Ha egy rajongó szeretne találkozni velem a reggeli, ebéd, vacsora, városnézés, stb …. Én játékot. Én is hozzászólok minden lépését az utam, és a többit hagyja az ő dolguk. De érdemes ezt a nyílt felhívás lógni. Remélem, a kiküldetés mindent az én Facebook szerző oldalhoz itt leszek képes kapcsolatba lépni a rajongók nagyon is valós, értelmes módon.

Nyilvánvaló, hogy fogom használni a legjobb belátása ezzel. Ha én valaha is indul érzés kellemetlen vagy veszélyes, nekem kell vágni a kísérletet, vagy legalábbis, átszervezését, több alapszabályokat. De nem vagyok hajlandó adni neki egy esélyt!

Azt hiszem, az utazás lesz még fantasztikusabb, ha olvasóim menni mini-kalandok velem!

Már alig várom, hogy mindenki!

Ügyetlenül tiéd,


P.S. Nem Olvasás / dedikálások / iskolai látogatások került lefoglalásra még a Romániában. Tehát, ha a rajongóim Szeretném felvenni a kapcsolatot a könyvtárak / könyvesboltok / iskolák beállításával kapcsolatos esemény, az nagyon jó lenne!

Stacey Jay, Veronica Mars, and The Kickstarter Controversy

Hey everyone,

Okay, I’m not going to lie. I’m upset. In fact, I’m shaking with the force of my feels. So please brace yourself, because this might be a bumpy ride.

Where to begin?

Right. Stacey Jay.

For those of you who haven’t had the distinct pleasure of meeting Stacey Jay, she’s a tremendous YA author whose talent is equaled only by her kindness. I met her at the Las Vegas Book Festival. I entered a room (where I knew almost nobody) wearing a giant poofy, sparkly prom dress and Stacey immediately made me feel welcome. That’s the kind of person she is.


You can read about that conference right here!

Unfortunately, Stacey’s book sales haven’t been strong enough for her publishing house to keep her on as an author. And at the end of the day, if a publisher feels like they will make more money investing in someone else’s book, that’s what they will do.

But Stacey’s heart was still with the characters of her most recent YA book, Princess of Thorns. Her readers wanted her to write a sequel. She wanted to write a sequel. Her publishing house wasn’t interested in publishing it.

Now here is where things start to get complicated.

Stacey created a Kickstarter for the project. Her plan was to have fans pay ten dollars for the book, and if they chose to donate more they would receive specific prizes. If enough people funded it, then she would be able to afford to focus all of her attention on writing this book for them.

This project was created specifically for her fans, but nobody was under any kind of obligation to support the Kickstarter.

Here is where things got twisted. Stacey openly shared that she would be spending a large portion of the money she would receive from the Kickstarter on her living expenses while she wrote the book. And some people didn’t think that was right. That meant that she was asking her fans to support her lifestyle, right?


If they wanted this book within the next seven months, well, then this was the only way they would be able to get it. Because the alternative for Stacey was to get a day job to pay the bills. And trust me, you have a whole lot less time for writing when you have another job competing for your time and energy.

Again, I would like to emphasize that at no point was anyone forced to give her money.

What fascinates me is that some people claim that this is not what Kickstarter was created for, that she shouldn’t be profiting from her fans before a book is even written.

To which I say, really?

I mean, Zac Brown raised over $55,000 to make himself a sandwich. Kickstarter can be pretty much whatever you make out of it.

But here is a better Kickstarter comparison.

The Veronica Mars Movie.

It’s a remarkably similar situation, actually. You have a writer (Rob Thomas) who desperately wanted to share his story. Thousands of fans were dying to see it. But the fact that nobody in Hollywood thought it would be monetarily worthwhile made it necessary to take the project to the people. A good chunk of the money that was raised went to equipment and sound and lighting and all those other cool movie things that I don’t completely understand, but have to be there in order to have a quality finished project.

Want to know where some of the money went?

To paying the actors. To paying the writers.

Yes, I’m sure Kristen Bell probably did something awesome with the money she was paid. She probably donated it to some worthy cause, perhaps she even donated it back into funding the Kickstarter. I don’t know. I’m not her accountant. And frankly, it’s none of my business.

But she was paid.

You know why? Because regardless of her net worth, she’s part of the Screen Actors Guild and that means it would be illegal to pay her nothing.

You know who else was paid?

Rob Thomas. He’s part of the Writers Guild of America. Again, it would have been illegal for him not to receive money for his work.

Now here’s what I find fascinating. Rob Thomas made it clear that without the support of fans, this movie would never be made. Nobody accused him of holding the movie hostage. He promised to deliver a product for the fans that did not yet exist. Nobody doubted that he would be true to his word. He constantly mentioned that this project was taking time that would otherwise be spent on other projects and that it was a strain on his family to have him so immersed in the world of Veronica Mars. Nobody accused him of using his home life to manipulate his fans.

So I have to wonder: Why the outrage over what Stacey Jay did when the Veronica Mars Kickstarter was roundly praised and received nothing but love from the YA community?

Stacey made it very clear on the Kickstarter that she was asking for the lowest amount possible for her to concentrate solely on this project. The amount she was hoping to raise would have been over a 60% decrease from the original amount her publisher gave her. Both Rob Thomas and Stacey Jay were willing to ask for the bare minimum of money they needed in order to give the fans what they wanted.

Perhaps the problem is that Stacey had the audacity to be upfront about the fact that she’d be using some of this money to pay her rent? Rob Thomas didn’t disclose that information. I’m willing to bet you almost anything that that is exactly where it went though. To food. To rent. To coffee. To all the mundane things that everyone needs to pay.

Here’s the difference: Stacey didn’t have the protection of a guild that said, you must pay her. She must make some money from her work. You cannot expect her to give you this book for free.

Rob Thomas was seen as generous for taking the lowest possible salary for himself, but Stacey was perceived as needy and greedy for doing the exact same thing.

Basically, Stacey was asking fans to preorder the book so that she wouldn’t have to worry about paying her bills while she wrote it for them. Some people have been comparing it to an advance, but I think they’ve misunderstood how advances work. When a publisher pays you an advance, it is the money you theoretically live on while you finish writing/editing/waiting for the book to come out. I say ‘theoretically’ because, trust me, those advances rarely last long.

The author never returns the money from an advance. The author waits until the publisher earns back that money in the form of book sales, before they will see a penny in royalties. But that initial money always belongs to the author.

Which is why this doesn’t make sense to me:


The donators are not business partners. They were never intended to be business partners; furthermore, I don’t think being a business partner has ever been a Kickstarter expectation. They were paying for a book that they would have received. Again, the Veronica Mars fans were paying for the salaries of actors in a movie that did not yet exist. Nobody expected Rob Thomas and Co. to pay back the Kickstarter fans when the movie arrived in their inbox. Nor did they expect to receive a percentage of the money the film ended up grossing.

If Stacey had paid her fans back for the Kickstarter after she’d written the book, they would have been getting it for free. And she’d have been super broke. And…huh?!

This is where a number of authors became offended at the expectation that they were supposed to work for free.

I think that that discussion has been covered pretty thoroughly. The gist of it being that art should be valued, because authors and artists also need to pay their rent. I’m pretty sure we can all agree on that.

So I’m going to jump ahead to the parts of the Stacey Jay Kickstarter conversation that are a bit more controversial.

1. Why should anyone be expected to fund Stacey Jay’s career by donating to the Kickstarter?

Answer: Nobody is expected to fund Stacey Jay’s career by donating. Just as nobody was expected to fund Rob Thomas’ career by donating to The Veronica Mars Movie. It is one project. One project doesn’t make a career, guys. And you could choose not to participate if you weren’t interested in that specific book.

2. What makes Stacey Jay so special that we should be paying her to write?

Answer: Well, if you want to read her book, then she is going to be part of the process. Furthermore, you’re not paying her to write. You are paying for the end product. I was not paying Rob Thomas to just write. I expected to have a movie sent to me.

3. Art shouldn’t be a privilege. If we are paying Stacey to write then she is receiving a special privilege.

Answer: Creating art absolutely involves privilege. Virginia Woolf nailed it when she said, “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” That’s the brutal truth. If you don’t have money, you will be spending all of those writing hours looking for steady employment.

But I’d like to address this notion that Stacey is receiving a special privilege. Here’s the thing, if you want her book? You should be paying her to write it. Nobody else in the whole freaking world will be able to deliver that specific experience to you. That’s part of what makes writing so magical.

4. It was an asshole move of Stacey’s to stop the Kickstarter.

Answer: I find this incredibly upsetting. First of all, this began as a passion project intended specifically to please her fans. When people began to insinuate that it was greedy/selfish, etc. she decided to withdraw from social media.

I totally support this decision.

You want to know why?

She did what was best for her own emotional health. In an industry where the statistics for mental health are incredibly grim, it should always be respected when someone says, I need to take care of myself.

Writers are twice as likely to commit suicide. They are more likely to suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, and to have anxiety issues. I don’t know if Stacey specifically deals with these–again, none of my freaking business–but criticizing someone for needing to protect their own mental/emotional/physical health, that’s not okay, guys.

5. I’ve had two broken arms, three jobs, and a bad case of gout and I found time for my hobbies. There’s no reason she couldn’t do it, too!

Answer: First of all, writing is not a hobby for Stacey. It’s a profession. A poorly paying one, sure, but it’s still a profession.

Secondly, congratulations! I know that sounds sarcastic, but I genuinely mean it. I am thrilled that despite many obstacles and hardships, you’ve been able to dedicate time to your life passions. That is truly a wonderful accomplishment.

That said, please do not expect me to meet your high standards of accomplishment. That’s like turning to someone suffering from depression and saying, “I’m happy all the time and I just got a speeding ticket! You should be way happier. I don’t think you are trying hard enough to be happy. So clearly it’s your own damn fault that you’re depressed.”

6. Nobody was bullying her! I didn’t see anyone bullying her! Why can’t I state my opinion without people getting mad at me? You’re trying to take away my freedom of speech!

Answer: I also didn’t see her email inbox. There’s a lot neither of us have seen. We don’t know what kind of messages she received.

What I did see was a bunch of people saying that they didn’t approve of what she was trying to do for her fans. And you know what? They do have the right to free speech. They exercised that right with Twitter, Facebook, and a myriad of blog posts.

They just shouldn’t expect everyone to be happy with the opinion they are expressing. I know this blog post will upset people. And I’m sincerely sorry about that. I hate hurting people.

Hate. It.

But in this case, I think the issue is too important for me to stay silent. So I am accepting that some people will disapprove of the way I’m handling myself. I sincerely hope we will agree on other issues. Maybe we can bond over Veronica Mars later? Or, uh…unicorns?

I just have to get this last part out first.

This Kickstarter was created for Stacey Jay’s fans. Just as The Veronica Mars Movie was made for the Marshmallows. Nobody was obligated to participate. Nobody was expected to donate. You were more than welcome to join in the fun! But if you just want to critique it from the sidelines…you should expect some resistance.

I think the internet can make it very easy for us to hate on things that just aren’t intended for us. And that in turn can have a dampening effect on other people’s joy, even when that was never the intention behind it. In this case, that means that none of us will be able to read a seriously kickass sequel that only one author was capable of writing for us.

And that, my friends, is why this whole debacle is so freaking sad.

Much love,


Writing Process Blog Hop!

Hey everyone!

So the ridiculously awesome Clara Kensie and Stacey Kade invited me to join this writing blog hop! You can read their posts right here (Clara and Stacey) because, well…yeah, I’m not kidding about the awesome.


This is my expression when I see them at a conference.

Okay, it’s question time!

1. What am I working on right now?

I’m writing the second book in a series that has only just gone on submission. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about it. So please forgive my vagueness. I can tell you that my heroine Emmy Danvers gets into a boatload of danger that involves contract killers, an elite prep school, and a boy with more than a few secrets of his own. Oh, and I absolutely love writing it! I’ve wanted to write this story for the past four years, so it’s a huge relief to finally put it on the page.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

Oh. I’m not quite sure how to answer this.


I write humorous contemporary YA. If you’re thinking, “That doesn’t answer the question, Marni. A whole lot of other people write that too,” than I obviously need to distract you. Penguins are adorable. They are the fanciest and I love them.

There is also a penguin named Nils Olav who was knighted in Norway. Making him (by far) the cutest knight in all of history. It’s not even a competition.

Now you know what I bring to the table: penguins and non sequiturs. But mostly penguins.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I love it. Pure and simple. I could not talk myself into writing 70,000 words (or more!) on a topic unless I was absolutely, positively, and undeniably hooked! I write the book that I most want to read at that particular moment. I think I continue on through the holy-crap-writing-so-freaking-hard times because I genuinely care about my characters and I can’t leave their stories untold without being plagued by guilt.

That’s also why I feel incredibly lucky that Kensington Teen gave me the opportunity to say goodbye to my Smith High School characters with AWKWARDLY EVER AFTER. It would have been a whole lot harder for me to move on without that closure.

Photo on 2014-04-01 at 16.54 #2

4. How does my writing process work?

Well, it usually starts out something like this:


It starts with a question that I find interesting. Like, what would you do if you became an overnight internet sensation? Or what if someone asked you to fake a very public relationship?

Then I write the beginning and I feel great! Everything is new and shiny and sparkly!

Until it’s really not.

That’s when I pull out my journal and start doodling. (Don’t look at the doodles if you can’t handle spoilers!)

Here is what I made for AWKWARDLY EVER AFTER:



I’ve noticed that often just doodling names or general topics can unlock the next section of plot for me.

Sometimes my doodles involve photos of famous people, like this one for DECKED WITH HOLLY.



My doodle for my current work in progress looks like this…



Intentionally blurred because it reveals plot for Book Two. And because it is my Secret Project of Secret.

Creating these doodles has become an integral part of my process, but there really is no magic short-cut to writing a novel. I have to sit down, take a deep breath (and an even bigger sip of coffee), and keep writing until I reach the end. And when I get to the editing stage, I ask my barista for a triple shot. ;)

And yes, I create impossible word count schedules for myself. I bribe myself with the promise of Thai food. Sometimes I take three or four days off and do nothing but listen to audiobooks. If you see me doing book promotion, it’s a fairly safe bet that the words aren’t flowing too smoothly.

The whole process can be maddening at times, but I still wake up every day feeling incredibly grateful that I get to do it!

The blog hop continues with Celeste EastonLydia Kang, and Kim Meyer! So there’s a whole lot more awesomeness to be read!

And on that note…

*slinks back to the writing cave*

Awkwardly yours,


Don’t Quote Me On This… (AKA How Authors Get Cover Quotes)

Hey everyone,

Truly, one of the most awkward parts of publishing is getting a quote for your manuscript. It’s kind of like asking your high school teacher to write a college letter of recommendation except a billion times worse.

Because these are either….

A. Your friends.

B. Your writing heros.

C. Authors you stalk on Twitter and therefore are convinced that you could TOTALLY be besties if you ever actually met…

And you’re essentially asking them to craft a compliment exclusively for you.

There are a few different techniques that authors tend to employ.

The humorous approach.


Feel free to put it in writing. For me. Thanks, homie!

The honest approach.

anigif_enhanced-buzz-22066-1399906332-49Compliment me, dammit!

The who-are-we-kidding-I’m-really-desperate-here approach.


This doesn’t tend to work with writers. Most of us don’t feel like successful adults. What’s your point?

And the….well, whatever the hell this is approach.


Hey guys! It’s Mustachio Marni! Don’t you want to say something nice now….?!?

Anyhow, I’m testing out the last approach. Feel free to let me know what you think of it.

I’ll let you guys know if it works!


Awkwardly yours,


Marni Advice Monday: What You SHOULDN’T Ask An Author

Hey everyone,

Author protocol is a scary thing! I say this as someone who has, um…committed more than her share of social faux pas, both online and in person.



That’s why I thought I’d take some of those experiences to compile this list!

Here goes:

1. Respect personal boundaries.

This is a whole lot harder than it might sound.

I definitely wish it always worked like this…


Even online friendships take time. Tweeting fifteen, “follow me, please!” messages isn’t really the way you want to get someone’s attention. Trust me on this. You want your favorite author to follow you because they want to chat, not because they feel guilty. The best way to make this happen is to have conversations with them, not at them.

2. Accept that personal safety trumps EVERYTHING.


*Marni quakes with fear*

I’m not going to tell you where I live. I pay for a P.O box. for that very reason. Most of my author friends are parents who take both their personal safety and that of their childrens’ very seriously. Everyone sets their limits differently. I personally have reached the point where I’m just not comfortable Facebook friending my readers. It’s not because I don’t love you all (I do! I totally do!) but if you’d like to interact with me on FB, I sincerely hope you will “like” my author page.

I enjoy being accessible to my fans. That doesn’t mean I forfeit the right to personal space.

3. Don’t ask questions that sound identity theft-y.


It’s not uncommon for authors to hear from teenagers who have been assigned a list of questions. Now while I think that it’s great that teachers are encouraging their students to engage with the literary world…some of these questions are inappropriate.

You don’t need to know my mother’s maiden name. Details about my first pet, my first job, my high school mascot…

(Teachers: Please revise this questionnaire!)

These questions put authors in a really awkward situation. We don’t want to come across as rude or standoffish, but if we give out that information to the wrong person–even once–our bank accounts could be emptied.

Which wouldn’t be good for anyone.

So here’s a good rule of thumb: If you think somebody could make trouble with the answer, don’t ask the question.

Oh, and please check out the author’s blog/Frequently Asked Questions tab. Usually you can find what you want to know right there!

4. NEVER quote a bad review at an author!

Not even when you want to know what they think about that really nasty one-star review someone left on Goodreads.

Resist. The. Urge.



a) Bad things happen when authors respond to reviews. In fact, some careers have very publicly imploded this way. Even when an author doesn’t publicly get in trouble, they are often privately reprimanded by their agent, editor, friends, colleagues, etc., who say something similar to this…


Or at least you shouldn’t share those feelings. Go back to discussing stickers and stop-motion animation book trailers!



My feedback doesn’t matter. At best, I’ll look defensive. At worst, condescending, snide, rude, arrogant, over-entitled…yeah, not good. The solution to this might seem easy: Don’t be a jerk about it, Marni! But it’s always hard to hear mean things about yourself. No matter how well-intentioned the bearer of bad news, that information hurts.

That also leads me to the biggest reason why you should NEVER quote a bad review at an author…

5. Remember that you have NO IDEA how they are doing.

You don’t. Even if their Twitter feed is all happiness and hedgehogs, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dealing with crippling self-doubt/depression/anxiety, etc.


This is very true for writers.

Someone very important to me is bipolar and she can’t openly discuss it because of the stigma attached. She is horribly, gut-wrenchingly afraid that if anyone discovers it, her career will go up in flames. Nobody would suspect that anything was wrong just by scrolling through her Facebook feed. Myself included.

So, I repeat: You can’t draw conclusions about someone’s mental health from their online presence.

That’s why I highly recommend airing on the side of compassion and kindness. And leaving bad reviews where they belong–buried deep in the bowels of Goodreads.

That’s my advice for the week!

Stay awesome, friends!

Awkwardly yours,


Marni Advice Monday: Humble-bragging and Jealousy

Hey everyone!

People seem to like it when I give advice. And well…I’ve never exactly suffered from a shortage of opinions. Just ask my (long-suffering) family members.

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Elementary School Marni considers what advice to give…

So feel free to ask questions! About writing. About life. About anything you want to discuss.

Today I thought I’d tackle professional jealousy.

This topic has been on my mind a lot recently. See, this post about writers on social media started making the rounds on my Facebook feed. I read it, laughed, then stared a bit guiltily at the keyboard.

Because I’ve definitely humble-bragged about meeting my favorite authors before!

In fact, I’ve not-so-humble bragged about meeting people!

Case in point:


Marni plus Laurie Halse Anderson.

Oh and…

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Marni plus Susan Elizabeth Phillips.


Marni plus Nora Roberts.


Marni plus Ally Carter.


Marni plus Jay Asher.

And my personal favorite…

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Marni plus Ellen DeGeneres!

Are you getting the picture? I’ve posted ALL of these online. Why?

Because. I. Totally. Geeked. Out.

And, yes, because it feels really good to look all smart and professional and…fancy online. These pictures were taken during some of the most wonderful moments of my life. But they are snapshots in time. They don’t tell the real story.

The real story is never as glamorous. The real story is that after a night of dancing with authors at the RWA in Atlanta, I spent the next six hours vomiting in a toilet. My friends think it must have been an allergic reaction to my TWO SIPS of Long Island Iced Tea.

I kid you not. Two sips.

Did I share that with the world? Um, no. I didn’t.

I conveniently left that part out.

So should I feel guilty about my not-so-humble bragging? Am one of those authors that people want to punch in the face(book)?!

Here’s what my friend and fellow KTeen author, Brigid Kemmerer, has to say:

I hate articles that seem to imply that we should shut up about our successes because we might make other people feel bad. It’s ridiculous. There’s no need to police social media to protect anyone’s feelings. Yes, non-stop promotion gets tiresomeBut so does non-stop complaining or non-stop anything.

If people are allowing social media to make them feel inferior, then they need to step away from the computer and get back in the real world. What people post on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram is such a narrow slice of their world — and it’s only what they WANT you to see. Further, if someone IS offended or overwhelmed by what one person is posting, then they can block that person or hide them from their feed. There are a few people I’ve unfollowed on Twitter because all they tweet are promo feeds for themselves and others. That’s IT. Who wants to read a non-stop stream of that? I like social media for one reason: the social aspect.

That’s when it kind of hit me. It’s not the bragging that bothers most people. I mean, yes, sometimes it can be grating, but that’s not at the heart of this issue. I suspect that the real problem is that the publishing world is a really murky place. To the best of my knowledge, there is no way to look at a book deal and say, “Oh okay. This is standard.”

I have a friend whose debut YA advance was 5x more than mine. Another friend was paid 40x less. It was only after a three-hour long conversation that any of us were brave enough to broach the subject of advances, even though we all depend on them to keep the bills paid.

It’s impossible to know if I should commit to using Instagram/Tumblr/Goodreads, etc., or even if these social media platforms translate into book sales! Do blog tours actually help reach new readers? Or would that time be better spent, y’know…writing?

These are all unavoidable questions for everyone within the industry and the fact that NOBODY appears to have the answers makes it even harder to reach any satisfying kind of conclusion. In the wake of all that uncertainty, we all seem to scrutinize each other’s Facebook feeds to see if we’ve been left in the dust.

This is where the real professional jealousy kicks in.

So how do we fight it?

I think Brigid’s advice is spot on. Step away from the laptop. Stop comparing yourself to others. Do not check out someone’s Wikipedia page to determine if they were younger than you when they got their first book published. Guess what? It’s not a competition!

But let’s say that isn’t working for you. Let’s say you’re feeling jealous and petty and irrational, oh, and annoyed because even though you know you’re being irrational you can’t seem to logic your way out of the situation.

Maybe…give yourself a little room to be bad?

Not terrible. It’s not like you’re going to say and/or do anything mean. Are we clear? That’s not going to happen, because you are not a bully.

But sometimes it feels really good to read terrible reviews of famous books. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with a book of quotations called, Writers on Writing. My favorite section was the one where all these iconic authors trash-talked each other. There was something oddly liberating about watching them trip over the pedestal my English teachers had reserved for them. The Germans have a word for this: Schadenfreude. It means, “happiness at the misfortune of others.” I like to look at it a slightly different way though…

Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself that you’re not the only flawed person around.

So that’s my Marni Advice for the week!

Awkwardly yours,